Maldives Law Institute

Memo Series - Evidence Act 2022

The Evidence Act 2022 (Act No. 11/2022) which was enacted on 18 July 2022 repealed the Evidence Act 1976 (Act No. 24/76) and Women’s Testimony Act (Act No. 14/72). The Evidence Act 2022 (EA) came into effect on 18 January 2023.

The EA sets out comprehensive evidentiary procedures that shall be applicable to civil and criminal matters. This memo series highlights the evidentiary rules mainly applicable to civil cases in four parts, which consists of the following:
Part 1: General rules of evidence
Part 2: Oral evidence
Part 3: Documentary evidence
Part 4: Assessment of evidence

Part 1 - General rules of evidence
Evidence can be divided by three means. They are by:
i. form
ii. weight
iii. relevance

Forms of evidence 
Three forms of evidence are admissible in court. They are:
i. oral evidence
ii. documentary evidence
iii. physical evidence

Part two and three of this memo series encompass the rules governing oral and documentary evidence. Physical evidence includes the following:
  • physical items submitted to prove a fact
  • forensic evidence
  • result or log produced by a machine
  • audio, video, photo, or similar evidence
  • scientific evidence
  • demonstrations, experiments, graphs, and chart made/submitted in court
  • things produced or shown by using machines

Weight of evidence
The classes of evidence are:
  • Class 1 (Direct evidence); and
  • Class 2 (Indirect evidence).

Direct evidence proves the existence of a fact directly without any intervening inference. Whereas, circumstantial evidence does not directly prove a fact, but allows reasonable inference to be made about the existence of a fact. Direct evidence includes:
i. oral testimony of an eyewitness or a person who heard something that could prove the existence of a fact
ii. defendant’s confession of guilt
iii. primary form of documentary evidence

Relevance of evidence
With regard to evidence submitted to court, relevance of such evidence is separated into below mentioned two categories:
i. factual relevance; and
ii. legal relevance.

In determining whether the evidence is relevant materially, it will be considered whether, in admitting the evidence, the evidence directly proves the existence of a fact or whether the admitted evidence would assist in proving the existence of a certain fact.

Evidence is legally relevant if the Constitution of Maldives 2008 (Constitution), EA, or any other law does not prohibit admissibility of the evidence due to it:
i. being obtained illegally
ii. being a statement obtained by oppression
iii. precluding the evidence from being admissible under a specific rule stated in the EA

Standard of proof

The standard of proof required for civil cases is on the balance of probabilities. Court may refer to the following in adjudicating a case on the balance of probabilities:
i. type of case
ii. defence raised in the case
iii. basis of the case
iv. severity of claim

If a tenet of Islam requires a certain number of witnesses to prove a fact, such number of witnesses shall be adduced to prove the fact. Similarly, if a tenet of Islam requires a certain number of male and female witnesses, such number of male and/or female witnesses shall be adduced to prove the fact. Otherwise, female and male witness testimonies shall be given equal weightage. Further, where a tenet of Islam does not permit a non-Muslim to testify against a Muslim, this shall be complied. If such restriction is not imposed, testimony of a non-Muslim and Muslim shall be given equal weightage.

Burden of proof
Unless otherwise stated, whoever claims a legal right or liability shall prove the existence of facts asserted. Where a person is bound to prove the existence or non-existence of a fact, burden of proof lies on the person who asserts such fact. Moreover, the burden of proof in a suit lies on the person who would fail if no evidence at all were given by either side.

Special rules apply for cases filed for limiting a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, whereby the State or the person asserting the limitation of the right or freedom shall have the burden to prove that it is within reasonable limitation. Same rule applies in unfair dismissal claims filed by employees. The employer will have the burden to prove that there was reasonable cause for the dismissal.

To download click: Evidence Act